Although all Baptists are independent and congregational in their polity, this group of Baptists is fiercely so, arguing that no ecclesiastical authority is higher than the local church. Most are associated with the fundamentalist-modernist controversy that began in the first half of the nineteenth century and, for that reason, they affirm the classic fundamentals of biblical inerrancy, the belief in Jesus’ virgin birth, his substitutionary atonement, his bodily resurrection, and his premillennial return. These Baptists have a highly exclusivist view of human salvation and for this reason emphasize personal conversion, evangelism, and revivalism. Many of them identify with the Landmark Baptist movement, arguing that Baptists are not really Protestant but rather that they can be traced to the early church.
Before the 1950s the Independent Baptist movement in South Carolina was centered around Bible colleges, especially Columbia Bible College (founded as the Southern Bible Institute in 1921 and modeled on the Moody Bible Institute) and Bob Jones University (1927), both of which were less rooted in the state or even in the South than in the North, where the early twentieth-century fundamentalist movement actually had its beginning. Independent Baptists remained a decided minority among Baptists of South Carolina until at least the 1950s, when fundamentalism began to grow among Baptists affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. By the late 1980s, Southern Baptists had grown conservative enough that some formerly Independent Baptists began to affiliate with the denomination and thus the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
Glass, William R. Strangers in Zion: Fundamentalists in the South, 1900–1950. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2001.
Leonard, Bill J. “Independent Baptist: From Sectarian Minority to ‘Moral Majority.’” Church History 56 (December 1987): 504–17.